Apr
5
2013

‘Robot Combat League’ is Terrible!

I recently saw a commercial for the SyFy television show Robot Combat League and was initially very interested. It’s about giant robots fighting each other! Normally, that’s a done deal, and will be on my viewing rotation with ease. Who wouldn’t want to see that? It was basically the Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel in real life. Unfortunately, I was quickly disappointed.

The first thing that came to my mind was that it was ‘Battle Bots’, but taken to the next level. If you’ve never seen that show, just imagine remote controlled cars with weapons, smashing each other to bits. Each team made their own completely custom Bot, which meant that they came in all sorts of interesting varieties. Weapons such as axes, flame throwers, grinding wheels, even rotating armored chassis were regularly seen. Different speeds, levels of armor and battle tactics made this a complete joy to watch. You would literally see metal being dented, things set on fire, and parts falling off. This was all controlled real time, right in front of you.

At the complete other end of the spectrum is ‘Robot Combat League’. Every robot is essentially the same core structure, just with a different external design, armor level, and gimmick. The robots are bipedal, but have to be held up by a big rod coming out of their torso, which goes all the way off screen and out of the battle ring. One team member essentially controls the robot forward/back and left/right, while the other wears a form of ‘exo-suit’ which allows them to actually throw real punches in order to make the robot punch.

That almost sounds awesome, but it definitely wasn’t. It seemed clunky, slow, and painful to watch. The people are just swinging left, right, left, right, and yet speaking about it as if they are doing some grand strategy. The actual contact between the robots is also amazingly lame. They sort of hit each other, but not really. Their speed and range of motion seems so limited, that I doubt real damage could ever be done. Of course, that’s not a problem since there are rigged special effects. There’s often barely contact, and yet a shower of sparks comes shooting out of the robot. Hydraulic fluid also starts pumping out, like a severed artery at times. I even saw a robot get cut in half, to the point where it flopped over, limp. In all honesty, the first thing I thought of when seeing the actual fight was a really big, glamorized version of the toy Rock Em Sock Em Robots, seen here:

It’s my own fault for expecting robotics technology to suddenly advance to the point of Mech Warrior level battles, or pseudo Voltron heights of freakin’ awesomeness. I do give some credit to the creativeness of the external design of the different robots, but that’s about it. However, I think I have the solution. Just take a couple of Boston Dynamics ‘Big Dog’ robots, load them up with weapons, and fight it out! That would actually be pretty cool, considering that seeing a Big Dog in action just hiking through the woods is creepy and freakish enough as it is! TV producer people, are you listening? Make it happen!!

About the Author:

I like technology, sci-fi, fantasy, and anime. You know, cool geeky stuff.

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